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A Patient's Guide to the Risk Factors and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Last updated 4 years ago

Colon cancer is extremely common. It is the third most common type of cancer in men and the fourth most common in women. The good news is that colon cancer can often be diagnosed in its early, most treatable stages with regular screening tests. Fawcett Memorial Hospital offers colon cancer screening and treatment in our accredited cancer care department. Continue reading to learn about the risk factors and symptoms of this form of cancer.

Risk Factors

There are a number of different things that impact your risk of developing colon cancer. If you have a family history of the disease, your risk is higher. Your doctor may even recommend that you have more frequent screenings if you have family members who have had the disease. Poor dietary choices can also increase your colon cancer risk. High-fat diets, in particular, seem to be associated with colon cancer. By contrast, people who eat high-fiber diets seem to have a lower risk for colon cancer. If you have colon polyps or ulcerative colitis, your risk of developing colon cancer increases.


In some cases, people with colon cancer don’t have any symptoms at all and only learn they have the disease after being screened. When symptoms do appear, they include fatigue, shortness of breath, changes in bowel habits, weight loss, anemia, and abdominal pain. These symptoms mimic other diseases, like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, so your doctor may rule those out before screening you for colon cancer. Tumors that appear on the left portion of the colon are more likely to cause early symptoms, as the left colon is narrower than the right.

If you’re concerned about your risk for colon cancer, contact Fawcett Memorial Hospital for a referral to a physician or to learn more about our cancer care services. We also provide senior care, emergency care, and more to the Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte areas. You can reach our Consult-A-Nurse line by calling (888) 685-1599. 


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